‘The guard cat’ – Cat World Magazine issue # 419

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This week was a happy milestone for me as I had an article accepted and published in February’s issue of Catworld. Entitled ‘The guard cat’, the piece tells the story of my feline friend who was my own personal guard cat and loyal companion during my journey to beat Hodgkins Lymphoma. Poppy was always by my side but is sadly no longer in my life. The best part about this is she’ll now live on in my story.

The tortoiseshell cat in the bottom left corner is my current companion and very similar (albeit with white bits) to her predecessor.

After ‘liking’ the Facebook page of Cat World Magazine, imagine my glee when the image of my familiar furry friend jumped out at me. If you’re a cat lover and read this magazine, I hope you enjoy the article. Issue #419 (February) is on sale now.

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Excerpt from The Gateway – Page 77, first 7 lines

A fellow author friend tagged me in a post today for us to help share our work. The idea is that you share the first 7 lines of either page 7 or page 77 of your manuscript, then tag 7 other authors to do the same. I can’t follow suit via my Facebook page so I won’t be tagging anyone, but thought I’d join in the fun and share a little excerpt with you anyway.
Below is the first 7 lines of page 77 of The Gateway (the NaNoWriMo 2012 novel):

I simply glared at her; feelings of fury and resentment building up until I felt as though I might explode. Then it came. I clenched my fists together and breathed quickly, trying to contain it. But the words spilled forth before I had a chance to stop them.

‘Yes, well maybe it’s time you grew a bloody backbone of your own,’ I growled at her, the tears threatening to spill down my cheeks. I gave her one last glare as she looked like I had just slapped her, and turned on my heel and ran down the corridor. I ran and ran and ran, not seeing where I was going at any point, my tears blurring my vision, then collided headlong into Joe.

Just for fun!

I have officially joined the reject pile

Remember in October when I said I’d sent a submission off to a publisher?

Well, I had my first official rejection letter on Wednesday. It was in electronic format, for which I was quite grateful, as the email came through while I was out for a leisurely walk to our local farm shop in search of some nice steaks for dinner. The air was fresh, the sun was shining and my lungs were bursting with clean, country air. Exercise always helps with positivity and there was always Hubby’s birthday dinner to look forward to later that evening.

In short, it was a very nice rejection letter, telling me that they appreciated the care and effort which had gone into the submission (I’m so glad that showed; that’s good, isn’t it?). They felt that the stories and the characters hadn’t been developed enough yet, which I must admit, I agree with. It’s not easy sending a submission of a story which isn’t finished, but I suppose I was attempting to do something I do frequently throughout my life, which is act quickly. I know that these things will take time. I really do. I think I even knew it would be rejected. So why did I send it? Perhaps I was so keen to get that one off my desk so that I could concentrate on NaNoWriMo 2012 and that’s why I didn’t wait to develop the story further. Perhaps it’s because I started it in 2010 and have felt like a stranger to the characters and their story. Perhaps I wanted to get rejected. The funny thing is, I’ve been developing it further in the last few weeks and it’s only now that I’m almost halfway through the story that the characters are starting to get interesting. Except now I feel a bit like I want to rewrite the beginning completely. So the question is, do I continue with this one or do I put it to bed and concentrate on other projects?

My main focus for the rest of this month will be to get articles published in both a trade journal and a children’s publication. It’s part of my course and I really want to crack on with it. February will see the second draft of The Gateway. It’s been 2 months now and I’m starting to get a little itch to dig it out and read it, as I can’t even remember half of what Emmeline got up to. There’s lots and lots of research required for that one too.

Anyway, waffle aside, I just wanted to report that piece of news. It’s not just about the successes. It’s about the knock-backs, too. It’s about the ability to say “OK, that one didn’t work, but it’s fine, because I’ll do this instead. I’ll persevere.” A wise man once taught me that perseverance is the key and he wasn’t wrong. I married him.

The best decision I made

For each day that goes by, I don’t regret my decision to leave my 9-5 office job to look after my daughter full-time and focus on writing in my spare time. I don’t even know where I found the time to do anything else after being at work all day and still had a family to look after and a house to run. It’s a non-stop day even now, from 7:30 in the morning until around 10pm at night (on the nights I write – I make a point of stopping at 10pm at the latest otherwise I’m just permanently knackered). Things aren’t so bad now that the little one is getting older, she sleeps through the night most of the time – unless she has a very bad case of teething (molars, I hate you). Many of you will know that I’m a fan of cooking from scratch and creating meals with thrift and care. They’re always tasty (so I am told, and even if I do say so myself) and always nutritious, but they do take some time. Especially my home-made pasties where the pastry is made in advance and then a roux has to be made for the sauce (I recently made some “highly recommended” chicken, bacon and mushroom pasties from the New Year leftovers, which was generously donated to one of my husband’s work colleagues). Then there’s the soups, the breads, the soaking and boiling of beans, the quiches; the list goes on. In between that I adopt several roles including Playmate, Teacher and all-round activity creator, as well as trips out to a few toddler groups throughout the week. Then there’s the running through the house pretending to be a monster before turning around and being chased by a little monster in a bit of role reversal. Occasionally I’ll sit down for five minutes with a cup of tea and catch up on Twitter, Facebook, Emails etc, read a few posts before looking at the clock and getting up again because the schedule around a small person needs to be tight. When she sleeps, I write. I write blog posts or I write articles or I research markets for article submissions.

So I’m getting there slowly but surely. First there was the launch of my mini-ebook: 7 Simple Ways to Survive on a Budget in October. Then of course in November there was NaNoWriMo where I wrote a 50,000 word novel in less than 30 days. It was hard graft, and it needs lots and lots of editing, but it was such an achievement and a buzz to know that I have a full manuscript to work on. I started another novel for NaNoWriMo 2010 which I didn’t complete so I’m throwing myself into that at the moment.

I now also have a Facebook page and have just uploaded a short story on to Wattpad, which you can read here for free.

I’m delighted to announce that I’ve sold a few copies of 7 Simple Ways to Survive on a Budget, which is fantastic news and really encouraging. A lovely review has been put up on Amazon for it, too.

So there you have it, my achievements so far in the three months of 2012 since I left my office job.

In 2013 I intend to complete my second novel, finish my course with the Writers Bureau and finish editing both novels for publication. It’s ambitious, but I believe I can do it.

As Henry Ford said: ‘The whole secret of a successful life is to find out what is one’s destiny to do, and then do it.’

What are your plans for 2013?